How to Use a QR Code to Engage Your Customers

AdAge tells us that more big businesses are experimenting with QR Codes. In fact, Macy’s has produced a 30-second spot that shows shoppers how to use the codes.

Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, and Post Cereals are also on board with their own programs.

I’m sure you’ve seen the Quick Response Codes. They’re the rectangular boxes that look like puzzle mazes (like the one you see on the left, which links to my website).

Consumers first download a QR Code reader to their smartphones. When they see a code, they snap a picture of it and content appears.

You’ll see the codes almost everywhere – on telephone poles, in store windows, on business cards, on signs. More and more, they’ll be used in department and grocery stores. They’ll be at the head of aisles, on shelves and on packaging.

Now, here are some additional ideas for using a QR Code:

  • A clothing shop or sporting goods retailer might post a code next to a product on a shelf. When a shopper takes a photo of the code, a detailed description or video will pop up on their screen.
  • A park will provide trail maps.
  • A QR code on a business card or tee-shirt will bring a visitor to your website.
  • Realtors can use them to show house listings.
  • Anyone can use them for contests.
  • Include them in newspaper advertisements and give readers directions to your location

uQRme spot from uQRme on Vimeo.

QR Codes are still very much in the development stage, but curiosity will be a huge factor in attracting consumer interest. Why don’t you experiment, too?

First, download a scanner to your smartphone:

Or, Google “QR Code Scanner.” There are many.

Next, create your own QR Code. Here are websites where you can create your very own easily, quickly and for free:

There are also sites, like, that produce promotional gadgets and signs printed with your QR code.

See how creative you can be. Engage your customers. You’ll certainly be ahead of the small business curve.
Disclaimer: I do not endorse, and I am not compensated by, any of the above listed products or services.

A TV Commercial Script Formula That Works (Don’t Model the Ski Lift Ad)

I just watched the ski lift commercial for the umpteenth time. And I realized, even after seeing it umpteen times, I couldn’t tell you the name of the product it promotes.

You know the ad I’m referring to. Two guys on a ski lift. The ordinary one asks his cool buddy with the shades, “Would you mind if I ask Sheila out?” The buddy responds, “Of course not. We broke up six months ago.”

Mr. Ordinary immediately receives a series of text messages from Sheila. “She says she’d love to,” “She can’t wait the see me,” and “She’s wanted me to ask her out for over a year now.” Finally, when Mr. Ordinary gets a video within a matter of seconds, Sheila’s cool ex asks to see the phone, grabs it from Mr. O, and chucks it into the snowy slope.

It’s a very funny ad. But the main characters never mention the name of the product. There are no visible signs or logos that identify a service. In fact, not until a voiceover during the final five seconds of the 30 second commercial do you learn that the AT&T 4G mobile network is the sponsor (I paid attention the umpteenth + one time when I realized after seeing it umpteen times I didn’t know the product).

It’s an ad designed to establish the brand. There is no call to action. It didn’t work for me.

I don’t recommend that format for a small business. 

The Formula for a Small Business TV Advertisement

If you run a cable ad, or produce a video for your website, include this information in your script:

  • This is what we do
  • This is why we do it better than anyone else (Features)
  • This is how we improve your life (Benefits)
  • This is our offer
  • This is our guarantee
  • This is what you need to do next (Call to Action)

Make the name, phone, physical address and website of your business prominent. State the name of your business multiple times. Have a presenter (you?) stand in front of your company sign or truck. Show your phone number at the bottom of the screen throughout.

The ski lift commercial is hilarious, but if you want results, follow the formula and model the AFLAC duck (How many times can you say “AFLAC” in 30 seconds?).

Google Offers Launches

This has been in the works for a while, but Google Offers beta has launched in Portland, OR. Based on options available in the subscription form, Oakland, San Francisco and New York City are also up and running.

Google Offers is a coupon distributor similar to Groupon and other sites that send Daily Deals. But Google promotes Offers as “a new, smart way to bring in customers.”

Google claims that their system will “bring new, high-value customers right to your door using an attractive offer.” They say that offer will be “50% off or more at places you’ll love.”

Mashable discovered a fact sheet back in January and published an overview, “Google to Launch Groupon Competitor.”

You know that Google Offers will arrive at a city near you soon. Stay tuned.